photo courtesy John and Pam Gaither


Keynote’s new short film created and debuted summer 2012.

Amber Wiley

Young men and women from around the country learned how to write a script, shoot a short film and edit the final product during the 7 weeks of Keynote summer project’s film track. John and Pam Gaither direct and support students as they create the films. They also coach the students on team building and spiritual growth.

The Keynote project is specifically geared toward musicians, artists and creative types. “We want the students to grow spiritually in the context of what they do creatively,” says John, “whether it’s graphic art, music, digital media, film, or something else.”

The training includes Keynote’s communication training, which helps students learn how to effectively tell their story of how God has changed them.

Last summer, a group of 7 filmmaking students on the film track spent 4 weeks creating Overboard, Keynote’s newest short film.

As the producer of the film and director of the film track, John’s highest value is that students own what they do. “We ask them to come up with their own idea,” he says, “we don’t hand them a screenplay.”

During an afternoon of training, the students watched short films to become more acquainted with the task before them. After viewing the 5-7 minute videos, this particular group of students decided they wanted to make a comedy. It had never been done on a Keynote summer project, but John agreed.

One day during a power outage by the light of their iPhones, the group brainstormed and landed on a concept to run with for their comedy.

Once the students had written the script, filmed the scenes and finished the production, they prepared an outreach tour for Indianapolis and the cities of Elkhart and Greenfield.

“The students put together a set of films taken from the Global Short Film Network website and take them out to show them to an audience somewhere local,” explains John. The team shows the films then facilitates a discussion afterward, giving a gospel presentation and allowing time for the audience to respond to Christ.

The gospel presentation is given by a student who has been trained how to communicate their unique story that will point people to Jesus. “The 4 Spiritual Laws are always in there, we don’t leave them out,” John says.

During the Overboard outreaches, 283 people saw the film, heard the gospel and were given a chance to respond. The team saw a lot of spiritual interest and 13 people indicated decisions for Christ.

Because of the film, doors were opened between people who have friendships but who’ve never had a spiritual discussion with one another. One example was a youth group where one student said he could finally talk to his friend about Christ, which he had never done before.

“If we don’t see spiritual things happen right there at the outreach,” says John, “we are hopeful that people are having these discussions at a later time.”

“We had more students on the film track this year than ever before,” says John. “The students grow spiritually, they are encouraged as artists to know that God created them as artists, to serve in that capacity and it creates a way to use popular culture to reach the lost in a language they understand.”

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